Posts Tagged: "religion"

Religion and Religious People I Like and Want to be Like

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

It’s got to have good humor, readily able to laugh at itself and its own goofs and quirks and gaffes and screw ups and oddities. And it must not take itself too seriously—that’s far too wearying of an existence for someone who has come to Jesus and discovered the easiness of yoke and lightness of burden and wonderful rest freely given to those with weary souls because of religion-gone-bad.

It must be quick to admit it does not have all the answers—never did and probably never will—on this side of eternity. It believes saying “I don’t know” is always better than pretending and preaching something not even fully believed by the pretender, the preacher. It knows there’s humility and strength in being honest about what it cannot be sure of. It has realized trust is given to someone who does not lie when they don’t have a full answer.

It keeps a balance of prophetic fire and gentleness. All fire all the time will burn everything down and leave nothing behind. The fire comes in letting that which is real and alive and resident in one’s own life and experience flow freely. This is not bluster or salesmanship. It’s like the forager talking about mushrooms, the woodworker talking about his favorite type of wood, the chef talking about his best knife. This passion is obvious and yet it is never aggressive or belittling or damaging.

It is playful and creative in its approach to Scripture, its storytelling, its messaging, its music, its teaching, its programming, and its way of interacting with the community outside its doors. It has good art and believes aesthetics matter. It is not pretentious or stuffy, it is a greenhouse for good ideas and songs and artistic expression to flourish.

It is not concerned with creating a whole separate Christian ecosystem to live safe and apart from the rest of the world, but rather, it plants itself within the community as a valuable resource to serve anyone who comes. In this way, it’s like a library… changing and evolving as culture and technology and demographics do, in order to best meet the needs of the community. The never-ending love of the God who created us is what it shares in many different ways and creative expressions.

As it is planted in the community, it is unique and local rather than being a franchise or a knock-off of some other “successful” church.

It views success, not in terms of numbers of attenders or dollars coming in or buildings being built, but in light of loving and serving people to the best of its ability.

It values real life connection over hits or views or likes or follows. It never aspires to famous or mega or televised or viral.

It goes with grace every time. In every situation. Mercy triumphs over judgement. Always. Its role in people’s lives is to bless and not curse. It remembers that it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. It chooses to not coerce, manipulate, police, or guilt its people into conformity. And it knows that all the law and prophets are summed up in these two great commands: love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor as yourself.

That’s the big deal and everything else is just human meddling, morality policing, and varying attempts to control people (which is bad religion).

It looks like its community in demographics and diversity… it is rich and poor, black and white and latinx and pacific islander and east Asian and south Asian. It’s never a social club for one type of person at the exclusion of others. It celebrates culture.

It sees the gifts of women and empowers them to lead, teach, preach, have authority and agency. It is egalitarian and believes in equality and works for justice. It rejects power trips and authoritarianism and patriarchy and violence.

It is careful and diligent in untangling itself from bad religion – religion used as a cloak for a political party, religious nationalism, religion entrenched in -isms (liberalism, conservativism, Calvinism, fundamentalism, racism, legalism, etc.).

It has only one hero, Jesus Christ. It has clergy, but they are not celebrities or heroes. The clergy preach Good News: all is forgiven, Jesus said “It is finished” and it really is… no more shame, no more condemnation, no more sacrifices, no more separation from God, it’s done, it has been done for you, this is God’s gift to you, so please take it! Receive it. Believe it. Walk in it. It’s yours.



The Great Stripping Away (or—how I lost some of my faith)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thankful Notes (#23)

I will always think of this past year as the Great Stripping Away. There were things I intentionally chose to remove from my life, there were things that just happened naturally and in their season, and there were things that felt more forceful, not in my control… more like a taking rather than a giving or letting go.

This past year…

We sold our big 3,000sf home of 10 years in the neighborhood where Ashah grew up

We gave away most of our furniture

I gave away 3/4 of my clothing

My dad started having memory problems

Ashah graduated / turned 18 / has boyfriend / is heading to college – including a study abroad program

We began a complete gut-and-remodel of our little lake house while living in it… which included no heat or water during the snow storm and power outage this winter

We had to move out for some days when the staircase was gutted (leaving no access to bedrooms and the only remaining usable bathroom)

The main level of our house had no walls, no insulation, no lights, etc. for a while

I slept on a cot in the construction zone for a month or two

We had no kitchen, no way to prepare food at home other than with a microwave

We ran out of money to pay contractors and had to borrow in order to keep going

We began a remodel on our rental house so we could sell it

We sold our rental house

We decided to close our Kent campus after some significant setbacks – the youth pastor left to work at another church and took much of the band and our workforce with him; at the same time, an elder/pastor left because of a pending divorce

The church I grew up in, now a multi-site megachurch in our community, hired our youth pastor without any prior contact or conversation with me. Our youth pastor left to work at one of their campuses and took… Read More

Sunday Shout-Outs

Two beautifully challenging pieces to share today—the first one is new, the other is a few years old…

shannon dingle for post

I Want To Help You Understand My Lament by Shannon Dingle.

I’m hurting, friend. I’m hurting deeply. And I’m being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can.

My heart is so tender, and I’m praying with each word that they will be received in the matter in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart.

I occupy a unique space. I’m white, but four of my children aren’t.

I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I’ve been targeted online as a “race traitor” for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabiling), but I’m raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren’t or don’t. I’m a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn’t “read books by women because they aren’t any good.” (And I’m a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that’s not how I’m feeling. I have… Read More

Found People Find People

- - Uncategorized


I know we like to think we found God.

It feels good to believe “we found love in a hopeless place” like Rihanna sings.

Expressions like “he found religion” reinforce the idea that we, while searching for treasure, made a great discovery.

But that’s just not how it happens. God, the Great Treasure, pursues us—and he does it relentlessly.

Eventually we realize He’s always been there. Our eyes open to the things He’s done.

We become aware.

We are not the finders of some great treasure. The Great Treasure found us.

We are found people.

That’s why we sing, “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

Here’s something true about found people that we see throughout the Gospels…


The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. —John 1.43-46 NLT

Jesus found Philip.

Notice what Philip does next…

He went to look for Nathanael and told him about Jesus, inviting him to “Come and see for yourself.”

This is what found people do. Found people find people.

Easter is the perfect time to invite—find people who don’t know Jesus!

Invite them to come with you and see for themselves.


imagine life restored 2013 work

Depth Over Display

- - Uncategorized


Roots aren’t very sexy but they are absolutely necessary.

They don’t get noticed or applauded. They exist under the surface and they grow slowly.

Roots aren’t photogenic. They’ll never make the cover of a magazine.

Without deep roots, there will be no leaves, flowers, or fruit.

Jesus talked about this.

While teaching the parable of a farmer scattering seed, He explained…

The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems… —Matthew 13.20, 21 NLT

The Message Bible says, “This is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But… when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.”

A great display of enthusiasm doesn’t always mean much.

I’ve noticed that the ones who are quick to rave about the church when they first come are often gone in a flash. It’s weird.

I recently heard a minister talking about his work in the prisons. He described how many in the prison wound up there because they had low impulse control. He went on to say how those with low impulse control are often quick to embrace religion enthusiastically—and obsessively. Their language becomes super-churchy and all they want to talk about is the spiritual.

The thing is, we want depth over display.

Being good at sounding and looking spiritual is not nearly as important as having deep, healthy roots—which aren’t seen or celebrated by others.

Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious… but they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important. —Colossians 2.23 MSG

We need depth over display.

Roots aren’t sexy but they’re absolutely necessary.

We tend to measure by the appearance, but what’s below the surface is way more important.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught. —Colossians 2.7 NLT


imagine life restored 2013 work